HOUSTON -- Rookie Marc Krauss sensed the baseball that was waiting for him in his locker after Tuesday's game wasn't the actual one he connected with for his first Major League hit. But when he saw his last name was spelled "Krausst," along with other well-placed injustices, he knew one of his veteran teammates -- namely, Carlos Pena -- had given him the old rookie treatment.
"I had seen it at the lower levels [in the Minor Leagues] when guys get first hits," Krauss said. "Some older guys that are at those levels grab a random ball and mess with it. Put the wrong name, the wrong date on there. Once I got that, I had a good feeling of what it was. That's what I was hoping -- especially when I saw the name was spelled wrong. I said, 'OK, they got me there.'"
While defacing a fake first hit ball is a time-honored tradition in baseball, fortunately, it's also standard practice to take good care of the actual keepsake. Sitting side by side in Krauss' locker are both balls -- the fake one and the real one. Both serve as a reminder about how nice it is to get that first hit out of the way.
"There was some relief, kind of like the monkey's off the back," Krauss said. "It's not hanging over your head where you're anticipating or trying too much to do that. Now that it's out of the way, I can go back to doing what I do and helping the team come out on top."